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Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 30, 2013

There’s a word for loving everything French: Francophile. My wife and I are Parisophiles, if I can be permitted to coin the term. Here’s a Life Magazine series called “Paris Unadorned: Black and White Portraits of the City of Light, 1946.” The nostalgia of the time, the sumptuousness of the black and white photography, the breathtaking beauty of the scenery make these pictures gorgeous and stunning. Enjoy!

Ed Clark—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
1) View along Quai du Louvre (today Quai François Mitterrand) down the Seine toward Ponte Des Arts with the Eiffel Tower in the distance, 1946.
2) View of the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, 1946.

3) A barge churns up the Seine past Notre Dame on a gloomy winter day in 1946.
4) A man exits a Paris Metro station, 1946.

5) The Arc de Triomphe, 1946.
6) A young artist paints Sacré-Coeur from the ancient Rue Norvins in Montmartre, Paris, 1946.

7) Moulin de la Galette, Paris, 1946.
8) Paris’ famed stalls along the Seine, 1946.

9) View across the Pont Alexandre III bridge toward the Grand Palace, Paris, 1946.
10) View across the Pont Alexandre III bridge toward the Grand Palace, Paris, 1946.

11) Paris street scene, 1946.
12) Near the Pont Neuf steps, Paris, 1946.

13) Scene on the Seine, 1946.
14) Parisian flower vendor on the banks of the Seine, 1946.

15) Pont Alexandre III bridge, Paris, 1946.
16) Conciergerie, Paris, 1946.

17) Rowboats on the banks of the Seine, Paris, 1946.
18) View of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Coeur, 1946.

19) Montmartre cemetery, Paris, winter 1946.
20) Passerelle Debilly bridge on a foggy winter day with the Eiffel Tower in the background, 1946.

This is a post-war Paris where, according to Ed Clark, the Parisians were “cold, hungry, confused and tired — above all, tired — too busy keeping themselves alive to bother much about entertaining. . . . [The typical American GI in Paris at the time] felt cheated. Where was the Paris he had heard about? Where were the naked women?” According to Life Magazine: “The Paris [of Clark’s photos] is the Paris of the Parisians — and of anyone else who will take her. She is unadorned, somber and beautiful. Most of the pictures were taken in mist or rain, when the sharp, clean lines of the city’s spires and the bridges pierce through a curtain of gray. This is the Paris that neither Germans nor GIs could change. Even in the age of the atom bomb, she is as indestructible as the river.”

One Response to “Parisophile”

  1. Kay Taneyhill said

    I wish these photos were in a book we could buy. Your description is excellent.


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